I came across ESF on Facebook, and I thought their concept was pretty unique and was impressed so I R.S.V.P'd to their service event in Atlanta. I must say that I was impressed. I didn't really know what to expect, but we did a housing build and there were probably 40 LGBT volunteers and about 80-100 non gay individuals. Everyone was cordial, the event was designed to allow us all to engage in conversation with each other. I'm a 50-year-old big man and don't come across as gay. And when a few of the non gay people found out I was gay they seem surprised, but asked thoughtful questions. Because the event allowed us to get to know each other first I felt comfortable discussing these with them, and I could see each of them open up. ESF - I'm truly impressed and you have fan for life!
My friend introduced me to Empowering Spirits in San Francisco. He told me it was a different type of gay rights organization that attempted to change the minds of non-gays. I was skeptical but went with him. I have to admit that I was blown away. I showed up and there were roughly 100 Empowering Spirits volunteers. A local church was there as well with about 50 volunteers. We broke off into a bunch of groups and did various neighborhood restoration projects from planting trees, to cleaning up a park and painting an out-building at a school. It was a lot of fun, but it was also really cool to work alongside the church members. They started to ask questions about being gay and most started to open up. It was great to see their mindsets change. What a great concept to dispel stereotypes Empowering Spirits!
I started volunteering for Empowering Spirits Foundation last September, as a local volunteer coordinator for a national event. The mission of the organization (to create opportunities for GLBT individuals to have non-confrontational dialog with non-GLBT individuals through community service activities) was right up my alley, because I am passionate about community service, and I am also gay. The event in my area was basically rained out, but I continued to volunteer for ESF, writing grants, and now I am on the Board of Directors. I believe in what ESF does, the management (Latham Staples) and the few paid staff are all great to work with, and I truly believe that they are making a huge difference in our country. It is great to have at least one day a year where we can go volunteer as "out" GLBT and feel safe and know we are making a difference.
Great organization! I attended an ESF service event in Washington and had a great time. It's great to see a LGBT organization taking such a positive approach and making a difference in society. This is the way we'll influence those against us!